Comedy for New Year’s: Award-winning comedians on stage at Memorial
WORTHINGTON — It’s going to be a standup New Year’s Eve.
At least, it will be if you’re in the audience at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center (MAPAC) that night.
“If you have no other plans, join us here and you’ll leave in a fantastic mood,” promised Tammy Makram, MAPAC’s managing director.
“Of, if you have a party to attend later, the show is early enough for you to still enjoy both.”
Either way, the comedy-focused program is sure to flick your humor switch as 2018 draws to a close and makes way for 2019’s midnight arrival.
“Two award-winning comedians — John DeBoer and David Harris — will be here to help us end 2018 with laughter,” said Makram.
“John’s been on ‘Comedy Central,’ and David happens to be a magician as well as a comedian.”
The two Minnesota performers, both headquartered in the Twin Cities, will take the stage in separate sets.
DeBoer, a veteran comedian whose website (johndeboer.com) mentions his short stint on “Last Comic Standing,” uses self-deprecating humor in calling himself “the funniest comedian you’ve never heard of.”
DeBoer’s colleague, David Harris, light-heartedly disagrees with that assessment.
“John is a consummate pro who’s worked at every kind of club and corporate event in Minneapolis and across the region that you can think of,” asserted Harris.
“I still learn when I watch him.”
Harris, who easily made his interviewer chortle during a recent phone conversation, believes the New Year’s Eve format at MAPAC favors attendees.
“That’s what’s great about stand-up comedy,” said Harris. “You get to see different performers, and in this case there will be two different styles on display.
“John’s been doing the comedy part for years and years, but he doesn’t know magic.”
Indeed, a touch of magic is bound to be included in Harris’s set — because, in his words, “I’ve been doing magic since I was born,” he quipped.
“I still perform magic, but it’s been a long-term goal of mine to get funnier and funnier so it’s become more of a combo act,” Harris added.
The two-time Regional Emmy-award winner won the title of “Minnesota’s Funniest Person” in 2017 following a competition with 50 other comedians at Joke Joint’s Comedy Club of St. Paul.
“I was always a goofball,” admitted Harris, a graduate of Armstrong High School in Plymouth. Harris was senior class president, and his classmates voted him “Most Likely to Succeed in Comedy.”
“I started performing magic at a very young age but I really got into it as a teenager,” he continued.
“I did kids’ parties, bars, bar mitzvahs and later corporate events because I like entertaining adults—and also because I could make money.
“I loved performing, and my parents had some job struggles so making money doing what I loved was the best magic trick of all.”
At the University of Minnesota, where Harris’s mother insisted he go so he’d have a backup should his plan to make a living as an entertainer would fail, Harris studied communications and business.
“If I couldn’t be a performer, I thought I wanted to help other people with their jobs, maybe in human resources,” said Harris. “And then I realized most people hate their jobs and I couldn’t be of help anyway.”
Making people laugh has turned out to be a workable career for the effervescent Harris, in any case.
Although he’s traveled the country, performing at venues such as the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev., the Hollywood Improv Lab in Los Angeles and closer to home at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy at the Mall of America, among many other places, Harris recognizes the beauty of the Minnesota performing arts community.
“In terms of support, Minneapolis is an awesome comedy scene,” said Harris. “We have a long tradition here of really focusing hard on producing good comedy.
“I definitely think if you’re going to be really good, you have to be smart and passionate — and I don’t know if it’s the winters or what, that you have to have a sense of humor to survive or what — but there’s a fertile comedy scene here that goes hand-in-hand with the theater community.”
On his website (davidharrislive.com), Harris touts his brand as “clean, relatable comedy” and expresses, “My goal is to create an experience everyone will be talking about long after, even if it’s good.”
He knows some people who haven’t previously experienced comedy may get a little nervous about it, thinking they might get picked on or singled out.
“Yes, there is some interaction, but John and I are harmless,” promised Harris. “We are not mean-spirited because we WANT you to have fun and walk away laughing.
“The truth of the matter is, tragedy plus time equals comedy, and I think that comedy connects with people because everybody has to deal with some pain in life.
“Life can be hard, weird, stupid or scary, so it’s nice to get out there, laugh about it together and realize you’re not alone.”
Makram and Harris both endorse a night of comedy as an ideal way to end the year.
“It should be a perfect night out for adults,” said Makram. “If you want to say goodbye to 2018 with a bunch of laughs, this is the place to do it.”
Added Harris, “Come out and laugh together, make a cool memory with some friends or family.
“What a great way to ring in the New Year — because everybody needs to laugh.”
“New Year’s Eve: Comedy and Magic with DeBoer and Harris” takes place at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31 at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington. Featuring live music by musician Sean Benz in the lobby an hour prior to show time, at intermission and following the performance. Concessions and beverages from Round Lake Winery will be sold. Reserved seating tickets are available at the Memorial Auditorium box office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, by calling 376-9101 or visiting friendsoftheauditorium.com. There is a slight discount for tickets purchased in advance of show time.